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What to Do When the Garbage Disposal Stops Working

Garbage disposals are a handy thing to have in our kitchens, as it allows us to take care of our drains by chopping up the pieces of food waste before they go down the drainpipe. Whether you are putting your dinner leftovers down the disposal, orange peels, and coffee grounds or your child has thrown one too many action figures down the drain, you are well aware that at times they can stop working altogether and will need some garbage disposal repair.

While it may not happen all too often, in the event your garbage disposal has stopped working, here are a few simple tips to consider in order to get it back in shape.

In the event your garbage disposal stops, you want to immediately turn off the switch and refrain from placing your hand or any other object inside of it. Even when the device is off because of the sensor, you want to make sure the switch is also turned off just in case the device decides to function again.

Garbage Disposal Common Problems

Disposal switch
The disposal switch may have a connectivity issue when trying to flip it on. If the unit does not get a signal, then there may be a problem with the switch itself.

When dealing with your garbage disposal, it is important to recognize that this device has a sensor that tells it to turn off in the event the disposal is overheating and is on overload. When the device senses that there is too much in the disposal, it will automatically shut off in order to prevent overheating and further damage to the device. If overload was not the cause of the garbage disposal stops, it is also very possible that there is an electrical problem that needs to be assessed.

Humming sounds
If you turn on your garbage disposal and you hear a humming sound but nothing is happening, then there is most likely a blockage preventing the impeller from turning in the grinding chamber. If the impeller (or flywheel) is unable to move, a garbage disposal wrench can be used to turn the flywheel clockwise to get the impeller moving again.

Wall switch
Make sure to keep your hands clear of the drain opening, look at the plug of the disposal and check if it is in the outlet properly, if it got loose it could affect the function of the device. If the plug is found to be partially disconnected, you may have just solved your problem.

Circuit breaker
There may be nothing wrong with the garbage disposal unit itself, but rather the circuit breaker may have tripped. Make sure to check your electrical panel/circuit breakers while troubleshooting – it could save you from having to keep trying to find why you’re having garbage disposal problems.
You will want to press the reset button (normally a red button) located on the disposal either on the bottom of the unit or at the front of the device. Once this is done, check again to see if the disposal will turn on and finish the job.

If you recognize that the garbage disposal is jammed, you will want to find the proper size Allen wrench or a hex wrench/key to use to fix the jam. 
To do so, simply put it through the accessibility hole located at the bottom of the garbage disposal in the sink and once you feel the tool lock-in, you will then turn the chamber of the disposal. This should help remove whatever may be clogging the drain.

Leaking Gasket
If you remove the garbage disposal from the kitchen sink, be sure to check the flange and gasket before replacing it to prevent issues such as the garbage disposal leaking. Putty can be used to help seal up the kitchen sink connection, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.

It’s possible that your drain line is clogged and you do not need garbage disposal repair but rather drain cleaning. You can try some DIY methods such as using a plunger, or you can run water (cold water and ice cubes or hot water and vinegar) to try and clear the food items. It may require an auger to clear the clog in the sink drain line so the garbage disposal works again.

Call A-1 Sewer & Septic for Your Professional Plumbing Needs

Are you concerned that there may be further complications with your drain, or have you found any other plumbing needs in your home? Please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted Kansas City plumber at A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc., today! We would love to help you with whatever your concerns may be.